June 20, 2017


The Silent Killer

As a child, I recall my first interaction with the stereotypical grumpy old man and the feeling of absolute bewilderment that quickly followed. Good manners and kindness are character traits that are usually drilled into a child's mind, mine being no exception, so why on earth was an adult acting in a manner that would have rewarded me with a time out? As a 5-year-old, life appeared to be teeming with adventures with the seniors having lived them all. I could not wrap my mind around the concept of them being anything but joyful, these humans who had conquered life with tales to tell. Why were so many of them spending their remaining time being mean to those that loved them?

 I simply could not understand.

As a teenager, I witnessed more and more seniors turn dark and the generation a decade or two younger begin mimicking a similar resentment towards life.It was as if bitterness was a disease that had begun trickling down the generations and no one could hold on to their happiness.

As I entered my twenties the paranoia began. Were you infected overnight? I was now witnessing those a decade older than I become darkened by bitterness and resentment, their joy and spark for life had been snuffed out. It was as if they too dreaded the next sunrise and would rather remain hidden amongst the darkness of the night where vices were well hidden. The dark only mirrored their heart in contrast to the daylight which portrayed the true toxicity and progression of the disease raging inside.

Bitterness. Resentment.

Would it happen to me? Would it happen over night?

Somewhere in my late twenties, wedged in between a few hardships life threw at me, raising young children and putting my passions on hold, it happened.

Seemingly overnight, but not actually if I am to be honest.

I had become what I feared, what I loathed. I was resentful and bitter with those who loved me the most despite my flaws. I became impatient, yelling at my children over spilt milk whereas a few years prior I would have simply made a joke and found joy in their little smiles of relief. I was furious with my partner because he left his wet towel on the bed and tied a knot in the bread bag for what seemed the thousandth time, didn't he know the pressure I was under? Little things had become mountains for no valid reason yet somehow I seemed to find numerous other reasons to justify my anger.

How on earth did I get this way?

Why was I allowing such trivial things to become stumbling blocks for the love I had towards my family, friends and my own life? All of a sudden I was that hypocritical human criticising another's mistakes and wagging my finger at the news saying, “What is happening to this world?” as if it had all changed overnight.

Only the world hadn’t, I had.

I had forgotten to make the choice. I forgot one morning and chalked it up to just a bad day, then a week went by and soon enough the choice was just too hard to make. I felt entitled to be angry and upset because the cards life had been dealing me were unfair and overwhelming. I needed a break from making the choice.

The choice to choose happiness.
To choose joy and positivity.

Bitterness exists in each and every single one of us, just waiting, biding it’s time for the moment we stop making the choice. When we weaken our resolve it seizes control of our hearts, souls and minds, beginning to control us like a puppet and before too long we are no longer in control. We become our own worst enemy as our negativity pushes love out of our lives, distances our children from us and causes them to push back. Let us not forget how it also sets fire to our ambitions and goals while whispering in our ear how incompetent and disappointing we are.

 As it all spirals out of control we place the blame on everything and everyone but ourselves because the blindfold over our eyes has tricked us into thinking we are the only ones in pain. That we are entitled to happiness and are the last to blame when really, we are solely to blame.

Take heed, please, I beg of you. Keep your eyes on those around you and remind yourself that bitterness is a disease that no one is immune to, not even the most joyful and passionate. You are not entitled to happiness, I am sorry to break it to you, but you are not. Happiness is earned every day by making the choice to be positive and when you succeed it banishes bitterness to the darkest corners of your soul where one glorious day it will be expunged forever.

Until then, fight the good battle and do not give up, I beg you. It happens overnight and ever so quickly before you know it the fight to gain your old life back will be a thousand times more daunting than it was to just make the daily choice to be happy.

I am still struggling greatly with the choice as I get caught up in my head about what I deserve and am entitled to when really, my happiness is no one's responsibility but my own and therefore my bitterness is to be blamed on no one else but myself. If you are unhappy, make changes for without a course of action you will only spiral further into the darkness. The simple act of taking control of your life by CHOOSING positivity will only lead to happiness and strengthen your willpower to stay joyful. Surround yourself with positive people who strive for similar things and if it is family that is toxic, love them regardless but encourage them from a distance.

Choosing happiness does not banish depression or sadness but it does infuse your life with positivity as you make the conscious choice to look for the good in life. Depression, anger and sadness are all valid emotions that each of us experience in order to fully appreciate the joy in life, however, bitterness does not fall into that category as it is a disease that will ruin your life.

No one is immune.

But you DO have a choice.

Watercolor by Ruth Oosterman

This painting was inspired by the blogpost up above. It features a young woman being strangled and puppeteered by the bitterness that has ravaged her heart. Her soul fighting the darkness is partially portrayed by the unfinished and uncomplicated lines contrasting the darkness rising from below, half of the painting in conflict with the other. 

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  1. Good insights about bitterness. And as you hinted, age, complacency or routine can increase these tendencies. A good reminder.